Kage Baker, as my Dear Readers may recall, was a big fan of what old newspaper people call “the Silly Season.”
She met the idea in an old Clifford Simak novel, from which I insisted on reading amusing passages aloud one summer. My habit of doing that frequently drove Kage mad; but she couldn’t help but save any interesting bits in her enormous memory – just in case they turned out to be useful. It is doubtless all that saved me from instant immolation by optic death-ray (which anyone who knew Kage will testify she possessed), especially in our teen years.
Anyway, she came to like Mr. Simak’s wonderfully American voice, Yankee humour, and the clear newspaper style that permeated his writing. More than that, she loved the idea of the Silly Season. And so she watched for it, and mined it gleefully, all her life.
I’ve talked about this before, of course: how, usually late in the summer, news becomes dominated by reportage of weird, unlikely, frankly goofy stories: Man Bites Dog is the classic example.UFO sightings peak, and so do the stories in the press about them. Bigfoot and Elvis are seen everywhere. It was Simak’s conviction, enthusiastically upheld by Kage, that it was the perfect time of year for aliens, ghosts, fairies and general weird people to cut loose – because odds were, it would get chalked up to harmless seasonal silliness.
Mind you, Kage thought such things happened pretty frequently anyway – and the Internet made them a lot easier to find. But the best ones did tend to come in the summer. This year, they are showing up a little early – as most symptoms of summer seem to lately; it may mean California will drown in rain come September, or it may just mean people’s brains have already fried. I’m already collecting for this year. For instance …
The last few days, a massive and unexpected school of anchovies has been swimming up from La Jolla. They are so numerous it looks like an oil slick. No one’s seen anything like it in a couple of generations. Is something chasing them? Are they fleeing the damned monsoons? Are they headed for Monterey, to make rude gestures at the canneries that closed when they fled those waters? Maybe John Steinbeck knows, but no one else has a guess.
They’ll hit some trouble on the way. Great White sharks spawn off the coast of California, and they are all over this year; from San Diego to Morro Bay and beyond. A gentleman at Huntington Beach got bitten a couple of days ago by a juvenile shark – luckily, not fatally. Manta rays are also swarming up the coast; and of course, the doughty Humboldt squid continues to move its territory North, and will happily eat anchovies between leaping out at fishermen. We even have unusual amounts of dolphins and whales out here this year, including the blue whale that absent-mindedly capsized a fishing boat last week …
In the meantime, God has appeared in an egg-plant to a line cook in Louisiana. His Name was spelled out in seeds, thusly:
Some poor gent on a train in Essex tried to enter the loo as the train was slowing at the station, and 6 young women in mini-skirts rushed out of the loo and attacked him. One of them kicked him off the train and (luckily) on to the platform, where (unluckily) yet another woman decided he was trying to steal her purse and punched his lights out. Why were the 6 young ladies all in the loo? (Not to mention how?) Who was the lady on the platform? No one knows, and all the police have is a guy with 2 black eyes and a broken nose. This could be a time slip, a dimensional portal incident, or a complicated sexual fantasy gone very, very wrong …
The Higgs Boson, tentatively identified by the CERN Particle Accelerator a couple of years ago, is apparently not behaving as expected. The results so far are: 1) a call for a yet-bigger particle accelerator; and 2) a theory that since the Higgs doesn’t do what we thought it did, none of us actually exist. Seems like a self-defeating statement to release to the news, but I guess someone was bound to notice eventually.
In Oklahoma, the loser in a political race is demanding a recount on the grounds that his opponent (the winner) is a robot.
In Uganda, a policeman shot and killed a tortoise that broke into his house and threatened him. It was evidently belligerent and put him in fear for his life. Presumed possessed, the dead tortoise was then burnt “to ashes” by a local Christian group.
The national astronomers group of Ukraine has named a star “Putin is a dickhead.” Academia is a ruthless place.
And we’re barely into July! This stuff usually gets screwier as the summer goes on. What wonders await us in the dog days of August?
Kage would love this.